Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Roller Coaster

We hiked today between Ashby Gap and Snickers Gap.  I hiked north starting just after 7 AM at Ashby Gap.  Gene started from Snickers Gap.  The distance between the two gaps is 14.1 miles.

The first four miles was very pleasant.  The trail was in good condition.  It was a little overgrown, but not bad.  It was also a little muddy from all the rain we had yesterday.  Apparently, this section of trail doesn’t drain well because there were short sections of boardwalk, especially toward the end of the 4 miles.

Bears Den Rocks

This 4 miles was the only good trail we got today.  For Gene, it was at the end of his hike. The rest of our hike was over the “roller coaster”.  The roller coaster is a series of ups and downs.  You hike up and over the top, then down to the next creek crossing, then repeat over and over for 10 miles.  We had eight ups today for a total elevation gain of somewhere near 3600 feet.  These “bumps”, as I call them, would not have been so bad if it hadn’t been for the rocks.  The entire 10 miles was incredibly rocky.  We didn’t finish with the roller coaster today; we have 4 more bumps in the next section.

A very rocky trail

The guidebook tries to offer an explanation for the many ups and downs.  Apparently, the original trail went along the ridge top over a lot of private land.  At some point in the past, the landowners decided to close the area to hikers.  The trail has been relocated off the ridge and over these bumps.  It doesn’t surprise me that it is land no one else would want.  The guidebook goes on to say that this is the most difficult section of trail within the 95 miles from the North end of Shenandoah National Park to the Pennsylvania State line.  Needless to say, we were both exhausted by the end of the day.  I got off the trail about 4 PM and Gene reached Ashby Gap about 4:45.

Walking through an old stone wall

For our after hike treat we had ice cold cokes and snickers to celebrate having hiked to Snickers Gap.

We haven’t decided whether we’ll hike tomorrow or not.  It depends on how I feel in the morning.  Gene is ready to go and has even packed his pack.  The mighty hiker is he.

That’s it for today.  I’m off to bed.

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